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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Cheltenham's Mohamed Eisa could be too hot for Crawley

The man with his finger on the EFL pulse

Crawley manager Harry Kewell and Dean Cox
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Crawley v Cheltenham
Cheltenham may already have enough points to ensure their survival in Sky Bet League Two but can remove any lingering doubts by beating Crawley at Broadfield Stadium.

It has been a stop-start season for 15th-placed Cheltenham, who have rarely looked like getting drawn into relegation trouble and never looked like serious playoff contenders.

But Gary Johnsons's side have moved forward since last season's relegation battle and head to West Sussex in a comfortable position, 14 points clear of the drop zone.

Mohamed Eisa has been the highlight for the Robins, with 18 goals from 37 league appearances, and is only three behind the division's leading scorer, Accrington's Billy Kee.

Finishing as the fourth tier's top marksman is not out of the question for Eisa, who can cause problems for a Crawley defence weakened by the absence of two first-choice centre-backs - Mark Connolly is suspended and Josh Yorwerth is injured.

Connolly was red-carded towards the end of Crawley's 3-2 home defeat by Wycombe on Wednesday.

Reds boss Harry Kewell felt his team played some good football against the highflying Chairboys but they struggled defensively and could not have many complaints after losing the shot count 12 to six.

The Crawley rearguard will be more vulnerable without Connolly and Cheltenham can take advantage.

2pts 29-20 bet365, Betfair

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Shrewsbury v Wimbledon
Shrewsbury have posted just one home League One win in five attempts since New Year's Day and the absence of key players could hinder their chances of beating relegation-threatened Wimbledon.

Automatic promotion is getting tantalising close for the Shrews who are in second place, one point behind leaders Blackburn and one above third-placed Wigan, who have two games in hand.

But two precious points slipped away as they drew 1-1 at Northampton on Tuesday and the result came at a cost with captain Abu Agogo receiving a straight red card which has triggered a four-match ban.

Ogogo is joined on the sidelines by key midfielder Ben Godfrey, who was injured during last Saturday's 2-1 win at Scunthorpe, and the sudden loss of two influential players could hit the Shrews hard.

Wimbledon are just two points above the drop zone and are fighting for their lives.

But they raised their game for a couple of their toughest away trips, winning 1-0 at Blackburn and drawing 1-1 at Scunthorpe and they are taking on the Shrews at just the right time.

Wimbledon or draw double chance
2pts 10-11 Betway

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Charlton v Plymouth
Plymouth came through a massive game against playoff rivals Bristol Rovers last weekend, winning 3-2 at home, and they can do likewise by beating Charlton at the Valley.

Argyle played in front of 13,466 fans, their biggest home crowd of the season, against Rovers and will not be short of support in London with an estimated 3,000 supporters making the trip.

The crowds have come flocking back because Argyle have been on a fantastic run with only one defeat in 17 league games which has seen them rise from the bottom of the table to the playoff positions.

Now Plymouth are sixth and there to be shot at, but they handled the pressure last weekend, twice coming from behind to win, and they look in far better shape than Charlton, who appointed Lee Bowyer as their caretaker manager on Thursday.

Saturday football columns

Didi Hamann

Mark Langdon

Bowyer stepped in after Karl Robinson left to join Oxford in a move which is likely to further frustrate fans disillusioned by the way the club has been run by Belgian owner Roland Duchatelet.

Charlton are only five points off the top six but they have taken just one point from their last four games and go into the match without England Under-20 defender Ezri Konza and Northern Ireland striker Josh Magennis due to international call-ups.

Plymouth have a few injury problems with attacking midfielder Antoni Sarcevic and centre-back Sonny Bradley unlikely to play but they have enough about them to extend their eight-game unbeaten run.

Plymouth +0.25 on Asian handicap
2pts 68-67 188Bet

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Wycombe v Port Vale
Wycombe climbed into League Two's automatic promotion places with a 3-2 win at Crawley on Wednesday and can cement the position by beating lowly Port Vale at Adams Park.

Gareth Ainsworth's highflyers are the second-highest scorers in the division and 17-goal target man Adebayo Akinfenwa should cause Vale problems with his physical presence.

Vale have lost main striker Tom Pope to a season-ending hernia injury and have failed to win any of their 13 matches this year.

They lost 1-0 at home to injury-hit Exeter on Tuesday and their week is unlikely to improve in Buckinghamshire.

2pts 17-20 Betfair

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Charlton are only five points off the top six but they have taken just one point from their last four games
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